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Response to Antons court case ruling

22 February 2008

Response to Antons court case ruling

Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton is disappointed the High Court has overturned his decision to cut the catch of the northern orange roughy stock (ORH1).

However, he said, it was useful that the Court has clarified how certain parts of the law should operate.

"The Court has made it clear that, to set a Total Allowable Catch, I must have at least some information about where the stock is in comparison to the management target.

"For this northern stock, which is spread over waters surrounding most of the North Island, gathering the information needed to assess the stock level will be extremely expensive and will come at a cost to industry."

Jim Anderton said he believed that, in this instance, the lack of information on stock levels required him to take firm action. "The lack of information, together with the low productivity of orange roughy, its aggregating behaviour, and the litany of orange roughy management failures around the world convinced me that caution to ensure sustainability was the responsible course of action.

"I balanced my desire to reduce the sustainability risk with the very real and immediate economic consequences, although I note the fishery last year only returned 1029 tonnes of fish from a 1400 tonne Total Allowable Commercial Catch.

"My preference was to be as certain as I could that I had looked after the long-term interests of the fish and the fishery. I was not willing to wait for evidence of a serious decline before I took action - if I did, it may be too late to ensure the sustainability of this orange roughy stock.

"However the Court has said that I must have more information to make the decision than was available to me so we will have to take that on board."

Jim Anderton said the Government would review the court's decision, and any decision on an appeal would be made later.

"We will also be reviewing the implications of this decision for the future management of this orange roughy fishery and other fisheries where we have limited information, including what further research effort will be required and cost-recovered from industry.

"The Fisheries Act is periodically reviewed and updated to reflect emerging fisheries management issues. The Court's interpretation of the Fisheries Act of course will be considered when the Act is next updated."


Background

Orange Roughy 1 (ORH1) - 2006/07 Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) - 1400 tonnes
ORH1 - 2007/08 TACC was lowered to 870 tonnes in the September sustainability round.

Orange Roughy 1 (ORH1) waters from Cape Runaway on the east coast, north to Cape Reinga and south on the west coast to Wellington.

The Minister decided to reduce the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for Orange Roughy 1 from 1470 to 914 tonnes and the TACC from 1400 to 870 tonnes in a sustainability round decision in September 2007, effective 1 October 2007.

A challenge to this sustainability decision was filed in the High Court by Anton's Trawling, Esperance Fishing, and Orneagan Developments, which collectively own 66% of ORH 1 quota.

The challenge was heard on 28 January 2008.

ENDS

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